Playing its best basketball of the season, the Orange will open its Big East schedule against Providence on Wednesday.
Syracuse (13-0) will try to be the first 14-0 Orange team since the 1999-2000 season. It will try to do that against a Providence (11-2) team that is off to its best start since the 1988-89 season.
Providence is led by senior forward Marshon Brooks, who is second in the Big East with 23.1 points per game. He scored 25 points and and added 12 rebounds in last Tuesday’s 84-76 win against Sacred Heart.
He meets a Syracuse team that has found its stride after struggling through the early part of its schedule.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim had called his No. 5 ranked Orange the most “overrated team” he had ever coached in his 30-plus years as coach. The Orange struggled against lesser opponents, including a narrow 63-60 win against William and Mary on Nov. 21.
Since then, Syracuse has greatly improved, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
In its last four games, the Orange is shooting 57 percent from the field, including 63 percent in the Orange’s 93-65 win over Drexel last Wednesday. Forward Kris Joseph led the way with a season-high 25 points while Rick Jackson had 15 points and 12 boards for his ninth double-double of the season.
“We have matured so much,” forward Rick Jackson said. “We have a lot of young guys that are working hard. They spend a lot of time in the gym getting shots up, and I am really proud of these guys.”
Now that Syracuse has arrived to conference play, Boeheim knows there are no easy games.
“Just looking ahead, Providence is 11-2, Notre Dame is a top-20 team and Cincinnati is still undefeated,” he said. “Looking around the league, everyone is playing great. It is as good as our league has ever been at this stage of the year.”
Wesley Cheng is the Editor-in-Chief for The Juice Online.